More information about Microsoft’s and Harman Kardon’s upcoming Cortana-powered speaker christened the Invoke - was revealed this week through the latest update to Cortana for Android. Available for select users, the latest version of the app adds a new setup page for Invoke that offers a glimpse into the upcoming speaker’s features.
In addition to Microsoft’s own Groove Music service, the Invoke will apparently support some of the most popular music services available at this moment including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. While overall, the setup UI for the Harman Kardon speaker looks quite polished, there are indications that this isn't the final versionfed. For example, the Spotify page incorrectly displays the description of Pandora. Still it doesn’t appear that Microsoft has a lot of work to do before fully finalizing the experience, which could suggest the Invoke might be headed for release soon. Actually, the Redmond giant might showcase the new Harman Kardon speaker during its Build 2017 conference which is scheduled to take place next month in Seattle.
The Invoke was all but confirmed a few months ago, when Microsoft and Harman Kardon published a video called “Premium Audio Meets Personal Assistant” which teased the upcoming AI-powered speaker said to be “coming in 2017”. Then in February the Wi-Fi Alliance certified a “Harman Kardon with Cortana” device, while cataloging it as “Digital Audio – Stationary (speaker, receiver, MP3 player) product. According to sources familiar with the matter, the Invoke will feature Skype Integration and offer users the ability to set up alarms, reminders or add things to their do-to lists. What’s more, the Harman Kardon Invoke won’t be bound to a Windows 10 PC to function, as Windows Phones, Android or iOS devices will be able to control it just as well. Skype integration and premium audio features are expected to be the key differentiators that will help Invoke distinguish itself from competing products such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. The Invoke is expected to be a premium device, so it’s probably going to be a bit more expensive than the average voice-powered Bluetooth speaker. While Harman Kardon is a highly respected audio brand, it remains to be seen whether Cortana can live up to the Amazon Alexa, whose AI-driven wits have helped propel the adoption of voice assistants inside the home.